The FBI refused to answer questions about the agency’s possible provocative involvement with the Jan. 6 Capitol riots during a Tuesday hearing on Capitol Hill.
“How many FBI agents or confidential informants actively participated in the events of Jan. 6?” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asked the Executive Assistant Director for the FBI’s National Security Branch Jill Sanborn.
“I can’t go into the specifics of sources and methods,” Sanborn said.
“Did any FBI agents or confidential informants actively participate in the events of Jan. 6, yes or no?” Cruz pressed.
“I can’t answer that,” Sanborn said, despite The New York Times revealing in September the presence of federal agents within the crowd that stormed the Capitol. Earlier this month, Newsweek revealed in a blockbuster story the presence of secret commandos with “shoot-to-kill” authority.
“Did any FBI agents or confidential informants commit crimes of violence on Jan. 6?” Cruz followed up.
“I can’t answer that,” Sanborn repeated.
“Did any FBI agents or FBI informants actively encourage and incite crimes of violence on Jan. 6?” Cruz asked.
“I can’t answer that,” Sanborn said for a third time.
Cruz went on to ask the agency executive about Ray Epps, a suspect captured on tape encouraging people to enter the Capitol who disappeared without explanation from the FBI’s Capitol Violence Most Wanted List last summer, according to an October report from Revolver.
“Who is Ray Epps?” Cruz asked.
Sanborn said she was “aware of the individual” but lacked “specific background.”
“Well, there are a lot of people who are understandably very concerned about Mr. Epps,” Cruz said, highlighting Epps’s encouragement of Trump supporters to “get into the Capitol.” “This was strange behavior, so strange that the crowd began chanting ‘Fed, fed, fed, fed, fed.’ … Ms. Sanborn, was Ray Epps a fed?”
“I can’t answer that question,” Sanborn said.
After outlining Epps’s mysterious disappearance from the agency’s Most Wanted List, Cruz asked one more time.
“Did federal agents or those in service of federal agents actively encourage violent criminal conduct on Jan. 6?” Cruz asked.
“Not to my knowledge,” Sanborn said.
Moments later, Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton pressed Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen about Epps’s mysterious disappearance.
“He was on the FBI’s Capitol Riot Most Wanted page just days after Jan. 6. In fact, he was one of the first 16 suspects added to that Most Wanted page on your website,” Cotton said. “It does not appear he was arrested or charged with any offense. In July, without explanation, he was removed from the FBI’s Most Wanted page. Mr. Olsen, who is Ray Epps and why was he removed?”
Olsen referred Cotton to Sanborn after she repeatedly refused to offer details on the same case.
“Senator, I don’t have any information about that individual. I would defer you to Ms. Sanborn,” Olsen said.
“You’re the assistant attorney general for national security. You run the National Security Division. The department has said that these Jan. 6 prosecutions are one of their highest priorities,” Cotton said. “This is a man who was on the Most Wanted page for six months. Do you really, do you really expect us to believe that you’ve never heard of the name Ray Epps? You don’t know anything about him?”
“I simply don’t have any information at all about that individual,” Olsen said.
“What other suspects on the Most Wanted page do you know nothing about?” Cotton asked.
Olsen didn’t offer an answer before Cotton pressed again.
“Can you name anyone else on the Department of Justice’s Most Wanted page?” Cotton asked.
“I’m not familiar with the Most Wanted page,” Olsen said.
In the same hearing, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee asked the panel about the agency’s double-standard treatment of left-wing rioters in 2020 versus the Jan. 6 defendants who are being held as political prisoners in solitary confinement.
“How many individuals who may have committed crimes associated with the riots in the spring and summer of 2020 were either arrested by law enforcement [with] pre-dawn raids with SWAT teams or had search warrants served on them through those means?” Lee asked.
Sanborn said she didn’t have “the particular numbers” available to answer the question.
“Could you tell me at least an approximate number or whether it’s a comparable number to those who had those executed or arrested in connection with the spring and summer riots of 2020?” Lee asked.
Sanborn said again she did not have the data with her at the hearing.
“You have any way of telling me how many of these individuals who were arrested in connection with the spring and summer riots of 2020 were placed in solitary confinement?” Lee asked.
“I don’t have that,” Sanborn said. “I’m not exactly sure that the FBI would house that data.”